Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Wovenhand

Mannequin Pussy – Romantic (Stream)

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There were outstanding music videos from Potty Mouth (which very nearly claimed this post’s feature spot), Jeff Rosenstock, WL, Haley Bonar, No Nets, T-Rextasy, Public Access TV, Tom Brosseau, NOTHING, Cass McCombs, Candy, Sargent, Maxwell Drummey, This Is The Kit, and Jonny Fritz to emerge over the past 48 hours. Joining those clips were quality full streams that came courtesy of Hiding Place, Mozes and the Firstborn, Slow Mass, Dust From 1000 Yrs, Wovenhand, BLKKATHY, and Whiskey Myers. All of them deserve all of the attention that they’ll inevitably receive but today’s featured spot falls to an old site favorite: Mannequin Pussy.

Following some seriously impressive turns at the start of their career, Mannequin Pussy have hit an astonishing career high with “Romantic”. Opening with a surge of unexpected momentum amid a wall-of-sound shoegaze-friendly opening figure that seems intent on decimating in its path, the band suddenly veers back into a section that’s more delicate than anything in their discography (so far, at least). What follows is a back-and-forth battering ram of dynamic dichotomies in both the music and the narrative.

“I get along with everyone I meet, I’m so sweet” is the unassuming opening line of “Romantic”, which sets an uncertain tone that quickly fixates on much darker undertones. There’s a desperate, pleading moment before the chorus that brings the dramatic stakes of the narrative to light and once the intentions of the band’s statements become clear, the music gains a staggering amount of force. While the narrative hits upon some difficult subject matter, the emotive backdrop of the vocal delivery and instrumental figures never lose themselves to easy trappings. It’s a deeply impressive work from a young basement punk band that’s been finding exciting ways to surprise their audience. If “Romantic” is any indication, that audience should be getting a whole lot bigger in the very near future.

Listen to “Romantic” below and pre-order the record here.

À La Mode – Total Doom (Stream)

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Tuesday saw the release of a slew of notable streams from Francie Moon, Cross Country, Left & Right, Kevin Devine, Curse of Lono, Sighs, Springtime Carnivore, Wovenhand, Avid Dancer, Communions, Peeling, Slow Mass, Bellows, Savoy Motel, and Dangers. In addition to that bounty, there were some strong music videos arriving from the likes of Adir L.C., Dust From 1000 Yrs, Bunny, Sam Evian, Joan Shelley, and Minden. A pair of excellent full streams in Sex Stains‘ self-titled and Skyjelly‘s package product were just the cherry on top.

While many of those acts have earned praise from this site in the past, today’s feature — once again — falls to a group of fresh faces. À La Mode only have one self-titled EP to their name but are prepared to change that in the very near future. Following their 2014 self-titled effort, the band’s made some enormous strides forward and arrive completely revitalized with the first single, “Total Doom”, from their forthcoming debut full-length, Perfection Salad.

Opening with an electronic, dance-ready beat turns out to be somewhat of a misdirect with the band throwing their weight into a more traditional setup after the introduction. At no point does the band lose the sense of fun it established at the top, though, and when the synth returns for the chorus it gives a remarkably bleak sentiment an abundance of life. Longing is a well-worn topic but what makes it a continuing source of fascination is that it can be tailored to match their author’s individuality. Here, chronic unrequited longing is given a bedfellow in all-consuming doom.

The dichotomy of vibrancy and gloom is crucial to the track’s success and helps “Total Doom” become an immediate standout. Exceptionally clever songwriting can go a long way in securing longevity and À La Mode offer it in excess for a little over two minutes. From those deceptive opening bars to the damaged, weirdly triumphant closing moments, “Total Doom” is nothing less than an exhilarating breath of fresh air.

Easily one of the most pleasant surprises of recent memory, À La Mode have set an extraordinarily high bar for their upcoming record. If that record comes anywhere close to achieving the peaks they do on “Total Doom”, they’ll have one of 2016’s most inspired records. In any respect, they’ll be a band to watch as the year goes forward. Until then, the best thing to do is to celebrate the overwhelming strength of “Total Doom” and give in to its considerable charm.

Listen to “Total Doom” below and keep an eye on this site for more updates on Perfection Salad.

Watch This: Vol. 138

While Car Seat Headrest, Abi Reimold, Lisa Prank, The Dove & The Wolf, Emma Russack, Black Thumb, Mindie Lind, Kiran Leonard, Laura Gibson, Wovenhand, CHVRCHES, Pig Snout, Metronomy, Clique, Skeleton Hands, Gang Gang Dance, Graveyard Club, Men of Paradise, Haux, Arc Iris, David Bazan, Pure Bathing Culture, Typesetter, Lisa Hannigan, and naps all had incredibly strong live video outings — culled from a variety of inspiring sources — last week, it would have been an exercise in futility to run them all together in a focal capacity. Even five featured slots can occasionally feel a touch excessive but it seems that anything less than five doesn’t typically do the format’s offerings justice.

The five clips featured today come from bands that have, in some form or another, garnered positive notices from this site in the past. Seeing these acts continue to grow, expand, succeed, and even flourish has been heartening. Seeing them excel in the live department remains galvanizing. There’s an expansive range from the selected acts (and their accompanying videos), in terms of style. All of them are worthy of praise. So, as always, sit back, tune up, lean in, and Watch This.

1.  Okkervil River (WFUV)

With their forthcoming Away nearing its release date, Okkervil River‘s been making some early rounds to promote the record.  It’s impossible to overstate how important Okkervil River were to the development of this site’s personal ethos, so any time the band makes a return it’s more than welcome. Here, they perform two songs from Away but continue to demonstrate their immense skill at re-interpreting their own material, offering an incredible version of “For Real” — easily one of the best songs since the turn of the century — that hints at their worldview. It’s an immensely impressive session and a memorable portrait of a band that’s never really gotten their due.

2. Worriers – Plans (Live From the Rock Room)

Last year’s Imaginary Life was Worriers‘ finest moment to date and the band still seems to be riding a surge of adrenaline and confidence from that small triumph. The quartet recently visited Live From the Rock Room to deliver a galvanizing rendition of “Plans”, one of that record’s many standouts. The band continues to be defined by both their intelligence and extreme amount of heart, both of which are fully on display in this clip.

3. Prism Tats (KEXP)

Prism Tats have been having a breakout year, releasing their formidable self-titled debut full-length on ANTI- Records and producing a string of praise-worthy music videos. They’ve been touring with some bands that have serious weight behind their names and making a small sea of fresh converts at just about every stop. Here, the band turns in a powerful session for KEXP, revealing their increasingly sharp interplay and knack for subdued, hook-heavy basement pop. The whole clip looks and sounds beautiful, standing as a strong example of what can be accomplished with the right people on both ends of the camera.

4. Big Thief (KDHX)

Masterpiece was an immediate standout upon its release and remains one of 2016’s finest records. It’s catapulted Big Thief into a new level of fame and the band’s responded in kind, continuously sharpening their craft and all but perfecting their penchant for sweeping, open-road anthems tinged with nostalgic hues. The band recently visited the KDHX studios and played through two songs, including the unforgettable and melancholic “Paul“. The band pairs it with a deeply felt run-through of “Vegas”, offering both a very strong reminder of Masterpiece‘s astonishing strength and their breathtaking prowess as a live unit.

5. Fresh  Snow – January Skies (Exclaim!)

For some time now, Fresh Snow have excelled in crafting aggressive, ambient tracks that come fully equipped with a decidedly punk influence. Their live show has been a consistent standout and the band holds nothing back for this atmospheric Exclaim! clip of the band playing “January Skies”. There’s a feeling of rawness through the whole affair that seems to be at odds with the serene lighting, creating a strange, unsettling feeling that elevates this far beyond the standard performance clip. There’s some magic at play here and it continues to cast out the kind of spell that simply can’t be refused.

Dirty Dishes – Lackluster (Music Video)

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In the opening days of this week, there has been a bounty of impressive streams from the likes of Hot Shorts, Clearance, Johanna Warren, No Nets, The Glazzies, Phyllis Ophelia, Vexx, Black Thumb, Scott & Charlene’s Wedding, No Age, Teenage Fanclub, Ulrika Spacek, Fond Han, Holy Sons, The Black Black, Wovenhand, Richard Edwards, Crying, Dan Edmonds, Orchin, Infinity Crush, Flock of Dimes, Sharon Van Etten, Delicate Steve, Computer Magic, Power Animal, Lowly, Miracle Sweepstakes, Lilac Daze, J&L Defer, John Travoltage, Smokey Brights, Elijah Ford, Brother Moses, Inner Oceans, and Slaughter Beach, Dog.

While all of those deserve all of the listens they’ll inevitably receive (and likely many more), this post’s featured spot falls to one of last year’s most intriguing breakout acts: Dirty Dishes. The project of Jenny Tuite, Dirty Dishes garnered a sizable amount of acclaim for the astonishing Guilty, a brooding record full of sharp-edged post-punk. More than a full year after its release, Guilty‘s retained a significant amount of bite, which winds up lending to the vitality of the recently released clip for “Lackluster”, one of the record’s many highlights.

“Lackluster” coaxes maximum impact out of a minimal setup. The majority of the video consists of psychedelic projection overlays that are intercut with footage of Tuite performing the song in front of that backdrop. In conjuring up an effectively eerie atmosphere — one that’s furthered by the decision to transition between straight-ahead shots and spliced-in close-up footage of the backdrop and what appear to be some outside sources — the clip manages to elevate the song (and vice versa).

Everything here, all of the subtle effects and edits, the song, the pacing, the dynamic approach of the structure itself, work in tandem to create something unforgettable and wholly hypnotic. It’s a masterclass in DIY artistry and a gripping reminder of Guilty‘s staggering power. Jump into the waters and get lost to the waves.

Watch “Lackluster” below and pick up Guilty here.

Young Jesus – 1 (Stream)

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Over the past six days, this site’s experienced another brief hiatus (due to both a conflicting travel schedule and a significant amount of preparation time for a forthcoming project). In that time, there were excellent streams that were unveiled by Left & Right, Russian Circles, Las Kellies, Jenny Hval, Vomitface, Corbu, Wovenhand, Royal Oakie, Grieving, Creative Adult, Kestrels, Dream Cult, Chris Staples, and Liam Betson. Site favorites Young Jesus joined the ranks of bands offering up new songs in spectacular fashion with the aching, bittersweet “1”.

Young Jesus’ recent track record has been astonishing. From delivering two of the finest records to be released in the present decade to turning in a few breathtaking live shows, the band’s provided several reasons to keep their name in circulation. Now, we’re all set to be spoiled. Guitarist/vocalist and principal songwriter John Rossiter has set in motion a plan to record, release, and possibly write a new song for each coming week for an indefinite period of time.

Just a few days ago, the first of those songs arrived in the form of “1”, a track teeming with the half-mournful/half-hopeful quality that marks the best of the band’s work. What starts off as a defeatist lullaby soon exceeds its seemingly stark restrictions and blooms into something magnetic and intangible. With just an acoustic guitar and a gentle vocal pattern, Rossiter conjures up a depth of feeling that slowly pulls the listener down, sinking them peacefully into the song as it progresses.

When everything fades at the end, the overall experience feels nearly spiritual; while “1” barely runs past two minutes its ability to form both a world and a feeling so vividly that it doesn’t feel right to measure it in any standard metric. It’s a gorgeous song from a songwriter operating at the top of his game and deserves to hold coveted spots on playlists, spots in any serious music collection, and more praise than it’ll likely receive. Most of all, it simply deserves to be heard.

Listen to “1” below and download the song here.